Trooper Mark Hunter Coates
n November 1992, South Carolina Highway Patrolman Mark Coates shot an attacker four times in the torso with his 4 inch Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver. His attacker, an obese adult male who weighed almost 300 pounds, absorbed the hits and shortly thereafter returned fire with one shot from a single-action North American Arms .22 caliber mini-revolver. Coates was fatally wounded when the tiny bullet perforated his left upper arm and penetrated his chest through the armhole of his vest where the bullet cut a major artery. Coates, who was standing next to the passenger-side front fender of the assailant's car when he was hit by the fatal bullet, was very quickly incapacitated.
The slaying was recorded by the video camera mounted in Coates' cruiser. For our law enforcement readers, a copy of the video was obtained by Calibre Press a few months after the shooting, and is shown at their Street Survival seminar. Frames from the video are published on page 238 of the Calibre Press book, Tactics for Criminal Patrol. (The Coates shooting is also presented in detail on pages 239-240.)
After Coates was hit, he immediately ran several feet, scrambling around the front of the assailant's car while simultaneously radioing dispatch that he'd been shot. As he neared the driver's-side front fender he suddenly collapsed onto the pavement.
Trooper Coates fired four 145 grain Winchester Silvertip .357 Magnum bullets
directly into his assailant's heavy abdomen, achieving solid hits with each. These particular bullets penetrate deeper than 125 grain JHPs, however none ruptured any vital cardiovascular structures. During the initial ground struggle, Coates was shot twice, but his vest protected him. After fighting off his attacker, Coates quickly climbed to his feet and emptied his revolver. At that particular moment the assailant was still lying on the ground. The combination of the assailant's obesity and the unusual angle at which the bullets entered his body worked to the disadvantage of Trooper Coates.
The Coates shooting exemplifies the fable of energy transfer, especially when encountering a determined attacker. The .357 Magnum cartridge is regarded by many as the ultimate manstopper; a true one-shot stop wonder. The Winchester 145 grain .357 Magnum cartridge is given a one-shot stopping power rating of 86 percent by Marshall and Sanow. According to this rating system, a single hit ANYWHERE in the torso is supposed to be highly effective in stopping an attacker, regardless of whether or not the bullet destroys vital tissue. But on this night, it failed FOUR TIMES! The assailant easily absorbed four bullets in his body, each delivering over 450 foot pounds of kinetic energy. This is equivalent to being hit four times by a baseball going approximately 210 miles per hour.
None of Coates' powerful .357 Magnum bullets were effective, but the bad guy's weak .22 caliber bullet was. The .357 Magnum bullets dumped all their energy into the attacker, whereas the single .22 caliber bullet disrupted vital tissue. The assailant survived the shooting, was convicted of murdering Coates and was sentenced to life in prison.